News From SHASS

Empowering the Teachers spring 2022 cohort with MIT Professor Tayo Akinwande (center) at Killian Court.

Fellowship program empowers Nigerian academics to transform engineering education in their local universities

Danna Lorch | MIT Center for International Studies

October 3, 2023

“Empowering the Teachers” provides an immersive and innovative training experience for young African academics.

“I believe my data will help answer some really big questions about both political economy and contentious politics,” says MIT PhD candidate Elizabeth Parker-Magyar, pictured here in Amman, Jordan. “I also hope it will answer some related questions around the impact of political reforms — like how state workers are hired and whether they find their work satisfying — and how decentralization matters for how public sector workers do their jobs.”

Finding solidarity in the teachers’ lounge

Leda Zimmerman | Department of Political Science

October 2, 2023

MIT PhD candidate Elizabeth Parker-Magyar finds close workplace networks among educators drive their activism even outside of democracies.

King County, Washington’s Executive Climate Office is one of J-PAL North America’s LEVER Evaluation Incubator collaborators. With support from J-PAL staff, King County is designing an evaluation of programming for households to more equitably access home energy efficiency improvements.

J-PAL North America and Results for America announce 18 collaborations with state and local governments

Mera Cronbaugh | J-PAL North America

September 29, 2023

Organizations will support government agencies in using evidence to advance economic mobility and racial equity in the wake of Covid-19.

MIT economist and Institute Professor Daron Acemoglu (left) presented the case for using AI to produce shared prosperity by supplementing workers, rather than replacing them, in a campus talk at MIT's Starr Forum on Tuesday, Sept. 26. At right is Fotini Christia, Ford International Professor of the Social Sciences at MIT, who was a discussant after Acemoglu's remarks. The Starr Forum is presented by MIT's Center for International Studies.

Who will benefit from AI?

Peter Dizikes | MIT News

September 29, 2023

In campus talk, Daron Acemoglu offers vision of “machine usefulness,” rather than autonomous “intelligence,” to help workers and spread prosperity.

The four majors, all launched between 2017 and 2019, have grown rapidly and now encompass about 360 undergraduates, or roughly 8 percent of MIT’s total undergraduate enrollment.

Giving students the computational chops to tackle 21st-century challenges

Adam Zewe | MIT News

September 28, 2023

With the growing use of AI in many disciplines, the popularity of MIT’s four “blended” majors has intensified.

Left to right: Kristin Young (Sophia), Timur Bekbosunov (Eric Lampton), Davóne Tines (Horselover Fat), and Maggie Finnegan (Linda Lampton) in “VALIS” at MIT.

Re-imagining the opera of the future

Anya Ventura | Arts at MIT

September 27, 2023

The iconic sci-fi opera “VALIS,” first composed by Professor Tod Machover in 1987, reboots at MIT for a new generation.

Top row, from left to right: Denise Frasier, Morgane König, Angelino Viceisza, and Tawanna Dillahunt. Bottom row, left to right: Wasalu "Lupe Fiasco" Jaco, Jean-Luc Pierite, Angélica María Mayolo Obregón, Christine Taylor-Butler, and Kwabena Donkor.

MIT welcomes nine MLK Visiting Professors and Scholars for 2023-24

Beatriz Cantada | Institute Community and Equity Office

September 27, 2023

Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors and Scholars will enhance and enrich the MIT community through engagement with students and faculty.

An MIT linguistics student and faculty member have catalogued the emerging use of “whom of which” in English, while examining what this new construction tells us about syntax.

Have you heard about the “whom of which” trend?

Peter Dizikes | MIT News

September 27, 2023

An MIT student and linguistics professor spot an emerging English phrase and examine what it tells us about syntax — but questions remain.

M. Taylor Fravel, an expert on China’s foreign policy and security strategy, is the director of MIT’s Security Studies Program, as well as the Arthur and Ruth Sloan Professor in MIT’s Department of Political Science.

Q&A: The BRICS expansion and the global balance of power

Peter Dizikes | MIT News

September 26, 2023

MIT political scientist Taylor Fravel examines the potential and limitations of a bigger BRICS group of countries — and what it means for the U.S.

In her research, PhD student Nicole Wilson examines the political behavior of an emerging middle class in Nigeria as it increasingly moves inside private enclaves. Her research, she hopes, will illuminate the “political role of the middle class in democracies in the Global South.”

Nicole Wilson: The politics of a shifting middle class in Nigeria

Leda Zimmerman | Department of Political Science

September 24, 2023

As the middle class in Lagos retreats to private enclaves, political scientist Nicole Wilson ponders the impacts on democratic norms.

In his new book “Iterate,” MIT associate professor Justin Reich contends the key to improvement in schools is modest-sized, incremental changes that can be repeatedly refined.

The secret to good schools: Try, try again

Peter Dizikes | MIT News

September 20, 2023

Justin Reich’s new book, “Iterate,” explains how education gets better through incremental improvements.

Economists Ben Olken of MIT and Clare Balboni are authors of a new review paper examining the “revolution” in the study of deforestation brought about by satellites, and analyzing which kinds of policies might limit climate-altering deforestation. Pictured is deforestation occurring in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

How to tackle the global deforestation crisis

Peter Dizikes | MIT News

September 19, 2023

Vital forest is cleared every day, with major climate effects. Satellites have revolutionized measurement of the problem, but what can we do about it?

Encouraging immigrants to visit primary care doctors creates a striking decline in costly emergency room use, according to a new study co-authored by an MIT economist.

How to keep people out of the emergency room

Peter Dizikes | MIT News

September 19, 2023

Help for immigrants in arranging primary care visits leads to substantial drop in ER visits and costs, a new study shows.

Co-authored by interdisciplinary teams of faculty and researchers affiliated with all five of the Institute’s schools and the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, the 27 selected proposals represent a sweeping array of perspectives for exploring the transformative potential of generative AI, in both positive and negative directions for society.

MIT scholars awarded seed grants to probe the social implications of generative AI

MIT News

September 18, 2023

The 27 finalists — representing every school at MIT — will explore the technology’s impact on democracy, education, sustainability, communications, and much more.

Yunqing/Isaac Han from Claremont McKenna College (wearing white and yellow mask) was one of the Alain Locke Fellows who attended PIKSI-Boston this summer.

Empowering the next generation of philosophers through diversity and inclusion

Michael Brindley | School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

September 12, 2023

Held annually at MIT, the PIKSI-Boston program brings together students from groups underrepresented in the field of philosophy.

Appreciation dinner with class 21G.320 (Introduction to French Literature). Left to right: Ishan Ganguly, Sara Modiano, Professor Bruno Perreau, Naomi Kirimi, Abraham Corea Diaz, and Nghi Nguyen.

In new French class, MIT students serve as jury members of US Goncourt Prize

Stephen Oakes | School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

September 11, 2023

MIT French+ Initiative named Center of Excellence in French Studies.

Top row, left to right: Isaiah Andrews, Joshua Bennett, Nathaniel Hendren, Crystal Lee, and Eli Nelson. Bottom row, from left to right: Ashesh Rambachan, Nina Roussille, Jessica Ruffin, Caitlin Talmadge, and Miguel Zenón.

School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences welcomes 10 new faculty

Michael Brindley | School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

September 7, 2023

New professors join Comparative Media Studies/Writing; Economics; Literature; Music and Theater Arts; Science, Technology, and Society; and Political Science.

Students collaborate with the MIT-Israel Zuckerman STEM Seed Fund awardee Leo Anthony Celi, a principal research scientist at MIT. The students "took part in a datathon [at the Technion in Haifa, Israel] and actively worked with their teams for two days. The teams were very diverse both in terms of skill sets as well as cultural backgrounds,” says Celi, who adds that the project would not have been possible without funding from the Global Seed Fund program.

Unlocking global research potential

MIT Center for International Studies

September 7, 2023

Center for International Studies Global Seed Funds program fosters collaboration and innovation.

J-WEL grant recipients

MIT researchers win grants to develop and test 14 innovative ideas to improve education

Shauna Billings Delano | Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL)

September 6, 2023

The Jameel World Education Lab awards more than $900K in Education Innovation Grants to researchers across MIT.

Juliet Liao '23 (left) and junior Amina Abdalla (right) found that their social impact internships, at the World Wildlife Fund and MassHealth, gave them a broader perspective on potential career paths.

Putting public service into practice

Elizabeth Durant | Office of the Vice Chancellor

September 1, 2023

Through the PKG Public Service Center’s social impact internships, MIT students leverage their analytical, technical, and creative problem-solving skills for public good.

“All insurgents operate in, recruit from, and depend on communities where half the population is female,” says Apekshya Prasai, a member of the MIT Security Studies Program. “I find that when organizing rebellion, some insurgents strictly adhere to patriarchal gender norms while others challenge these norms in radical ways.”

Apekshya Prasai: Up in arms

Leda Zimmerman | Department of Political Science

August 30, 2023

New research shows how female activists resist patriarchy on the battlefield and beyond.

Stefan Helmreich is the author of “The Book of Waves,” published by Duke University Press.

Dreaming of waves

Peter Dizikes | MIT News

August 30, 2023

Stefan Helmreich’s new book examines the many facets of oceanic wave science and the propagation of wave theory into other areas of life.

Africa, MENA, and South Asia are on the front lines of global air and water crises.

New clean air and water labs to bring together researchers, policymakers to find climate solutions

Sarah DiCioccio | Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL)

August 29, 2023

Labs in Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, and South Asia will be led by J-PAL with support from Community Jameel.

“As I embark on this new journey,” says Denzil Streete, “my commitment is to further [graduate students’] aspirations by fostering an environment where [they] can thrive and are made visible, where ideas are valued, and where the pursuit of knowledge knows no bounds.”

Denzil Streete named senior associate dean and director of the Office of Graduate Education

Office of the Vice Chancellor

August 25, 2023

“Natural collaborator and advocate for students” will oversee the educational experience of the Institute’s 7,000 graduate students.

MIT HASTS PhD candidate Steven Gonzalez, who writes under the name E.G. Condé, has published his first book, "Sordidez.”

Q&A: Steven Gonzalez on Indigenous futurist science fiction

Michael Brindley | School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

August 21, 2023

The HASTS PhD candidate describes his new book, “Sordidez,” a science fiction novella on rebuilding, healing, and indigeneity following civil war and climate disaster.